Monday, April 27, 2015



Humour in Uniform



This story happened many years ago, in the 1980’s, much before the 2006 AVS Cadre Review Bonanza.

Those days, there was a selection board for promotion from Lieutenant Commander to Commander rank after around 15/16/17 years of service.

Now  things are much better  and every officer automatically becomes a Commander in 13 years.

A Spoof

Lieutenant Commander “X” was passed over for promotion to the rank of Commander.

This happened in the 1980s – much before the AVS Cadre Review 2006 – when – in the Navy – Commander was a Select List Rank – and only a selected few became Commanders.

Now – after AVS Cadre Review 2006  100% Officers are promoted to the rank of Commander (Lt Col/Wg Cdr) after 13 years of Service.

Now – a similiar situation of supersession can arise for promotion to the rank of Captain (Colonel/Group Captain) – and the agony of passover is delayed by one rank.

So – to come back to our story – the promotion board results were out – the Navy Promotion IG Signal was released – and the name of Lieutenant Commander “X” was missing from the select list.

Lieutenant Commander “X” was passed over for promotion to the rank of Commander.

“X” was devastated.

“X” was a typical service minded  ex Sainik School  ex National Defence Academy (NDA) Officer – the only world he knew was the “fauji” military world.

And since he had joined the Navy after NDA  the Navy was the “be-all and end-all” of his life.

For “X”  getting superseded for promotion was the end of the world.

It was extremely cruel for a devoted service minded officer like “X” to be told at the age of 35 that he was “useless – and that it was the end of the road as far as his naval career was concerned.

Observing how badly supersession had affected “X”  the Captain called all officers to the wardroom  and in our presence  the Captain gave an inspirational pep talk to “X”.

“Come on, cheer up. What is there in a promotion? The Navy is not everything. Your career is not the “be-all and end-all” of your life There are so many other aspects to life. Your career is just one small part of your life. And just because you are superseded does not mean you are not a good officer. There are just not enough vacancies. You must take it in your stride in the right spirit and keep working with full josh. Even as a superseded officer you can contribute…blah blah blah…and you can take up a second innings in the civvy street too – so many ex-navy officers have succeeded in their civilian careers…you must put the past behind you and move on…blah blah blah…” the Captain went on and on with his platitudinous sermon trying to console Lieutenant Commander “X” who seemed heartbroken and inconsolable.

“X” wanted to put up a representation against his supersession  but the Captain said to him: “There is no point fighting the system. You must accept your destiny with grace…blah blah blah…”

And then the Captain continued to pontificate  uttering the usual platitudes of consolation and rhetoric of motivation.

But “X” was so heartbroken  that he was not convinced by the Captain’s comforting words.

“X” wanted to quit the navy there and then  because he did not want to suffer the ignominy of serving under his juniors.

However  his friends and his wife convinced him to hang on for at least 5 years more till he completed the minimum 20 years required for getting a pension.

“X” stuck on for 5 more years in the navy  serving in insignificant appointments specifically meant for those officers who had fallen by the wayside” and were considered to be superseded deadwood.

The moment “X” completed 20 years of service  he quit the Navy.

Meanwhile  the Captain did well in service  and in due course he was promoted to the Flag Rank of Rear Admiral.

Yes – the Captain got promoted – but it was strange and ironic  that hardly any officer from his ship got promoted  even his Heads of Department  the XO, EO and LO  were passed over for promotion.

Yes – everyone on the ship had missed their promotions  but the Captain had become a Rear Admiral.

After a few years  one morning  I suddenly met “X” in the INCS Canteen.

I took him over to the club  and we sat down for a glass of beer and talked of old times.

“X” told me that he had got a good job in the corporate sector  and that he was doing well in civilian life.

“X” looked at me and said: “Our Captain was right – promotion is not everything. There are so many aspects to life. I was unnecessarily so upset that I did not get promoted.”

Suddenly an ex-shipmate from the same ship came into the bar  and the moment he saw us – he joined us.

He had come on Temporary Duty from Delhi.

Our ex-Captain had been posted to Delhi  so “X” asked him: “So  how is our old man  our ex-Captain – I heard that he is a Rear Admiral now.”

“He is bad shape...” the officer said.

“He is in bad shape...? What happened to him..?” we asked.

“Don’t you know how desperate he was to get promoted...? He was so ambitious that he even wanted to be the Chief. Unfortunately  he missed his promotion to Vice Admiral  and the shock of being passed over for promotion has driven him crazy...” the officer from Delhi said.

“What...? It seems as if the Supersession Shock has driven him crazy...?” we asked.

“Yes – the moment he came to know that he had been superseded for promotion  he went berserk – he put up representations, statutory complaints, fought court cases – in fact  he is still fighting the system  and he has become very bitter and depressed...” the officer from Delhi said.

“That is strange. When I missed my promotion to Commander  I remember him consoling me and telling me that an officer must accept supersession with grace – and that there is no point in fighting the system. And now – he is fighting the system – and it looks like he has not accepted his own supersession with grace...” my friend “X” said. 

“No. No...” the officer from Delhi said, “His supersession has affected him so badly that not only has he gone mentally crazy and become extremely depressed and bitter – but even his health has been badly affected...”.

“Health...?” we asked.

“Yes  he had a severe heart attack a few days ago  and he is still in hospital. Now – with a low medical category – it is certainly the end of the road as far as his Naval Career is concerned...

Retired Lieutenant Commander “X” looked at us and he said, “Our ex-Captain is a funny guy – isn’t he...? When I was passed over for promotion – he gave me such a good pep talk – and I “walked his talk” – and here I am doing well in life – but when supersession happened to him – he could not walk his own talk” – and he has landed up having a heart attack...

Yes...” the Officer from Delhi said, “It is easy to talk – but difficult to walk the talk” – especially for these senior officers – who become more and more ambitious – as they climb the promotion ladder...

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1. This story is a spoof, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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